The traditional fishing net, locally known as hanga jaal, is still popular among villagers in the district, although shortage of indigenous species of fish in the water bodies does not allow its large-scale use.
Hanga jaal, (pushing net), is a three-to-five-foot-long triangle made of net and bamboo. It is especially suitable for catching indigenous species of fish. Women and children can use it to catch fish in shallow water.
District Fisheries Officer Muhammad Farooqul Islam said it is cheaper and easier to use than any other fishing net. “This type of fishing net is seen in villages especially during the rainy season when there is water everywhere,” he said. “People know that indigenous fish are not available in local water bodies, but they still use the traditional hanga jaal,” he said, adding that the net is seen in every house.
Ratindranath Sen, 78, of Senpara village in Patgram upazila, said he used hanga jaal since his childhood for fishing in the local water bodies. “We used to catch eight to10 kg of indigenous fish with the net about three decades ago, but now that is only a dream,” he said.
“It needs strong arms to handle hanga jaal,” said Nehanat Ullah, 65, of Etapota village in Sadar upazila. “Our women are also trained to catch fish using the net,” he added.
Azizul Islam, 46, a day labourer of Doljor village in Aditmari upazila, said he earned his livelihood through fishing with hanga jaal about eight years ago, but it is not possible now as indigenous species of fish are not available. “I still use hanga jaal to catch fish when there is water all around,” he said.
Rubel Islam, 12, a Class VI student of Etapota village in Sadar upazila, said everyone is in a festive mood when children use hanga jaal for fishing in the local water body. “It does not matter how many fish we get, what matters is that we all enjoy fishing with our traditional net,” he said.
“We also catch fish with hanga jaal in the water body beside our homestead during the rainy season, and, of course, we are able to handle this type of net,” said Rubel's mother Rehana Begum.